ongtime fans of Ari Goldwag might have been surprised to see a subtle change on his new album Lo Nafsik Lirkod. As a composer, arranger, and producer, Goldwag usually sees his music through from concept to recording independently. But this time was different. “I worked together with Yochi Briskman right from the earliest stages of selecting material,” Goldwag says. “And once we had made the choices, he did a lot of musical editing and gave suggestions for production.”

Why the change? “When I worked on Benny Friedman’s ‘Ivri Anochi’ and ‘Yesh Tikvah,’ I realized the power of collaboration. Having a few artists work together on a project only makes the music better. So I thought, ‘If I can collaborate for other people’s albums, why not for my own?’ True, I’m used to working as a lone artist and it was hard to accept other people’s advice and change my ideas, but I see now that involving Yochi, Yitzy Waldner, Elie Schwab, and others has helped to take this album to the next level.”

The title track, “Lo Nafsik Lirkod,” features lyrics by Miriam Israeli. Goldwag’s own idea for the lyrics was to link the “never stop dancing” message to the concept of Torah being the Jewish nation’s everlasting “song.” But he accepted others’ opinion that for the song to truly take hold, in the way that “Yesh Tikvah” and “Ivri Anochi” did, the lyrics needed to be stripped down and kept simple — nothing complex. Yitzy Waldner’s influence is also felt in the album. He worked as the vocal coach to soften and sweeten the singing. “He guided me to sing more lightly — so instead of giving the impression that I’m commanding the listeners, I sing in a way that implies I’m suggesting that we never stop dancing.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 714)